SHERMAN was born in Newtown, Massachusetts on April 19, 1721.When
Sherman was two years old, his family moved to Stonington, where he grew up in
rather humble circumstances, without the benefit of much formal education.He
had a strong desire to learn and read widely in his spare time but he spent most
of his waking hours helping his father with farming chores and learning the
cobbler's trade. Sherman was apprenticed early to a shoemaker and at the age of
nineteen, his father died and he became the principal care taker and financial
supporter of his large family.It is
said that while at work on his cobbler's bench, he usually would have an open
book before him, so that the could devote every spare minute to study.
1743, two years after his father's death, Sherman traveled on foot and joined an
older brother who had settled in New Milford, Connecticut. Here, in partnership
with his brother, they engaged in the mercantile business.In
1745, he was appointed surveyor of lands for the county, a job he qualified for
because of his early attention to mathematics.In
1749 he married Elizabeth Hartwell.Meanwhile,
encouraged by a judicious friend, he was devoting his leisure hours to the study
of the law and made such progress that he was admitted to the bar in 1754,
without benefit of a formal legal education.
1755, he was elected a representative of New Milford in the general assembly of
Connecticut, and the same year he was appointed a justice of the peace.Sherman
prospered and assumed leadership in the community, and in 1759 he was made one
of the judges of common pleas in Litchfield county.
In 1760, his wife Elizabeth died, leaving their seven children in his care.In
1761, Sherman moved to New Haven, where he managed two stores, one that catered
to Yale students, and another in nearby Wallingford. He also became a friend and
benefactor of Yale College, and served for many years as its treasurer. In 1763,
three years after the death of his first wife, he wed Rebecca Prescott, who bore
him eight more children.
political career blossomed. He rose from justice of the peace and county judge
to an associate judge of the Connecticut Superior Court and to representative in
both houses of the colonial assembly. Although a Puritan and opposed to
extremism, he promptly joined the fight against Britain and devoted himself
unreservedly to the patriot cause.He
was one of the most active members of the Continental Congress.Without
showing gifts of popular speech, he commanded respect for his knowledge,
judgment, integrity and devotion to duty.He
served on many important committees, but the most decisive proof of the high
esteem in which he was held was the fact that, along with Adams, Franklin,
Jefferson, and Livingston, he was appointed to prepare a draft of the
Declaration of Independence, to which document he subsequently affixed his
the Revolutionary War, Sherman served in Congress and on the supreme court of
Connecticut.He was elected New
Haven's first mayor in 1784.
the age of sixty-six, he was selected as a representative of Connecticut to the
Constitutional Convention.And in
1789, he helped prepare the Bill of Rights.Thomas
Jefferson described Roger Sherman as "a man
who never said a foolish thing in his life" and Nathaniel Macon declared
that "he had more common sense than any man I have ever known".
Roger Sherman is the only American to sign four important historical
Association of 1774; The Declaration of Independence; The Articles of
Confederation; and The Federal Constitution.
career of Roger Sherman most happily illustrates
the possibilities of American citizenship.Beginning
life under the heaviest disadvantages, he rose to a career of ever increasing
usefulness, honor and success.He
died at the age of seventy-two in New Haven on July 23, 1793, serving his
country to the very end as a United States Senator.
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